Re: Public perceptions of science: was Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

From: Chris Barden <>
Date: Fri Sep 09 2005 - 15:38:08 EDT

Thanks for the link Moorad, that's a refreshing thing to see an
elected official wrote so cogently on the issue!

Bob, your second point is crucial in the most important social
respect: politics. While those of us who are interested in these
things are familiar with the demarcation problem and can argue the
specifics of different kinds of science, to most people the practice
"that which scientists do." What should be in the science curriculum?
 Well, whatever it is that scientists say is important: this is what
it boils down to in the public sphere, I think. Moreover, we already
had disagreements among ourselves over how various branches of science
carry out their work; this only fuels the public's intuition that we
don't have a unified front. Dawkins takes advantage of this
definition when he uses his chair for the public understanding of
science to spread his own metaphysical position on science. ID
advocates exploit this definition by casting their metaphysics as
science, pointing to Behe, Wells, etc as practitioners. YEC examples
are legion.

Considering this, I wonder whether the complaint that ID "is not
science" makes an effective rebuttal at all. If that is the only
thing we can say, we are left in the troubling position of having to
"call out" members of the profession as not really being scientists,
or at least not speaking as scientists when they speak for ID. When
we do that, the charge of the Establishment trying to control the
Dogma of Science seems to ring true, and messages from the NCSE and
similar organizations are just bracketed with the static produced by
the above groups. I'm not sure what our alternative is but it doesn't
look like a viable political strategy to hope that the public will
somehow begin to care about the epistemological details of science.

Received on Fri Sep 9 15:39:04 2005

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